Why shouldn't transgender people alter their bodies?

Much of the commentary I read from Catholic sources on the transgender issue criticizes a certain modern philosophy that makes a radical distinction between mind/soul and body. The problem, these writers say, is that people equate who they are with their mind only, neglecting the body’s own language that also reflects the reality of the human person. Sex is not just mind; it is primarily body.

To me, the problem with this criticism is precisely in how it frames the issue: as a mind/soul vs. body issue. However, it seems to actually be a body vs. body issue. Transgender people want to alter how their body looks because they do not see themselves as the sex that their physical appearance reflects. However, the biology of the human body consists of more than the physical appearance. Brain chemistry – however much it is involved with and is used by the mind/soul – is still physical and part of the biology of the person. Transgender persons, then, want to match their outer biology with their inner (brain) biology. So then why is altering one part to make a consistent biology wrong?

First, they are doing far more than altering “one part”. They are in fact altering their entire body chemistry. So, not to be snarky, but why is altering a “part” more OK than just altering the brain chemistry to match the parts?

In a culture where freedom has been redefined as a right to choose anything and liberty has degenerated into license, the newspeak of the age has declared the instrumental use of the body of another to be sexual freedom. It is not freedom. It turns people into objects of use and degrades the dignity of human sexuality. Sadly, the same spirit of the age fails to recognize the integral unity of the human person, body, soul and spirit, and has turned the human body into a machine with parts which the revolutionaries think can simply be interchanged. Removal of genitals and attachment of artificially constructed ones which are absolutely incapable of ovulation or conception does not change the structure of reality. The removal constitutes mutilation and the construction of artificial organs with no reproductive function does not alter the gender or sex of the person. Medical science confirms that our identity as male or female affects even our brains. In addition, even the physical appearance must be sustained by massive doses of synthetic hormones for the rest of their lives.

To assert that they are engaging in an effort to make their biology “consistent” is about as far from reality as possible. DNA does not change. None functioning artificial genitals do not produce the required body chemistry for the gender they are attempting to ape. Life long “body chemistry adjustment” is required to keep up this charade. Mutilation and lies. There is no virtue in this effort and those who attempt to justify it are being intentionally obtuse to the realities.

If this were really a therapeutic medical procedure designed to “fix” a flaw, how do we account for the fact that over 40% of transgender persons attempt to take their own lives?


The fact of life is that people are born without limbs, with disorders, prone to certain diseases, etc. Yet we see it perfectly acceptable to fix these naturally-occurring situations that are perceived to be damaging to the human person. We say the transgendered should not alter their body, but we exclusively concentrate on the outer appearance when we judge what sex is. Whatever one’s understanding of what sex/gender is and what it consists in, the fact is it is far more complicated than simply saying “you have male genitalia, therefore you are 100% male and should act like it.” I do not see how this issue involves a disintegration of the understanding that the human person is body-soul. We can adjust our bodies, take medicine, or have surgery if our bodies are harming us in some way, yet this does not neglect the “integral unity of the person.” It seems that for transgender people, this is the same deal. We are talking about adjusting the body to conform to other parts of the body–unless someone wants to claim that the brain is not part of the body. :shrug:

It has little to do with outward appearance and everything to do with genetics. A person’s sex (and, by extension, they exterior expression of their sex) is determined by their genetic makeup. No amount of surgery or hormonal injections can alter the underlying fact that a person is either male or female.

There are very important difference between “transgenderism” and your examples:

If a person is born without a limb, the body was damaged at some point during development which prevent the limb from forming properly. We correct this because it is a case where something in the body is broken, and we have the right to seek to fix it. This is in contrast to a person who thinks they are the other gender, where the body is properly formed, and the issue is in their mind. Strictly speaking, it is a delusion. They believe something that is demonstrably untrue. Physically and genetically, they are a specific sex. If their mind is rejecting this, then the mind is at fault, not the genetics or their expression.

If a person is born with a disorder, (I’m assuming you mean mental / psychological disorder here), then we attempt to fix it by addressing the underlying mental issue. We do not try to fix it by altering reality to fit their disorder. When a person is depressed we try to fix the chemical imbalance causing their depression, we don’t tell them that their depression is alright and that some physical alteration will fix it. When a person is bipolar, we address the chemical imbalance that causes their mood shift. We don’t say that it’s fine for them to bi-polar and do things in the manic / depressive state that hurts them or those around them. When it comes to trangenderism, as with all other mental illnesses, we should attempt to fix the underlying chemical or emotional imbalance causing their delusion, not give into their harmful desire to physical alter their bodies in a way which is not in accord with the reality of their genetic expression. Did you know that John’s Hopkins University (sp?), the first hospital to perform and promote gender reassignment surgery, has since rejected the entire notion as faulty and harmful to the individual. They saw no improvements in the mental health of the patient after the operation, and instead saw a statistically significant increase in the suicide rate of those individual who had undergone the surgery. (They found that a “transgendered” individual who underwent gender reassignment surgery was almost 20 times more likely to commit suicide than one who did not.) Obviously, the surgery does not address the underlying emotional / chemical imbalance, and only exacerbates and already bad situation.

Being prone to certain illnesses is, again, an instance where the body does not respond properly to external or internal stimuli. It is not acting in accord with it’s nature, and therefore we seek to fix it. With transgenderism, the body is acting in accord with it’s nature; it’s the mind that’s out of whack.

No one who is opposed to gender reassignment surgery is saying that these people aren’t suffering, or that there’s nothing wrong with them and they should get over it. Quite the opposite, we are asking that they be given the proper medical treatment they actually need, instead of being allowed to delved further into their delusion state by doing significant, irreparable harm to the physical structure of their bodies. They need psychiatric help, not a culture which embraces their delusion. It is far more loving and caring to confront someone when they are mistaken then to allow them to continue in their ignorant or mistaken state.

It is about the natural order. It sounds old.fashioned nowadays, but it is considered a sin because it goes against nature.

Being born without limbs is not normal, so that would make it alright to fix it. Changing sex is a different thing.

As I said before, this sounds old-fashioned. I actually had a hard time trying to accept some church teachings, like contraception, homosexuality and transexuality. But I had to be humble and accept it if I wanted to call myself Catholic.

What started as a demand for basic civil rights has mutated into a demand to overturn the whole society, along with its traditions and norms, its standards and laws, its history and heroes.

This was a very helpful post! Thank you. :smiley:

One thing:

This is in contrast to a person who thinks they are the other gender, where the body is properly formed, and the issue is in their mind. Strictly speaking, it is a delusion. They believe something that is demonstrably untrue. Physically and genetically, they are a specific sex. If their mind is rejecting this, then the mind is at fault, not the genetics or their expression.

When we say the issue is with their mind, aren’t we actually meaning to say an aspect of the body? The mind and soul are not physical, but there are reasons to think that the feelings of being another sex are rooted in biology. There is a mismatch between something going on in the brain and the external manifestations of the sex. It seems that altering the body is one way to address this mismatch.

The thing is “sex” and “gender” are two very different terms that CANNOT be used interchangeably. Sex comes from God where as gender is a manmade concept intended to keep people in a box.

I personally think if there was no such thing as gender, trans wouldn’t exist because people would be able to express themselves how ever they liked without it being associated with the opposite sex.

Glad to hear it ^^ This is a very complex subject with minds far better than mine spending many hours on it.

One thing:

When we say the issue is with their mind, aren’t we actually meaning to say an aspect of the body? The mind and soul are not physical, but there are reasons to think that the feelings of being another sex are rooted in biology. There is a mismatch between something going on in the brain and the external manifestations of the sex. It seems that altering the body is one way to address this mismatch.

Everything about our bodies is rooted in biology, including any delusions a person suffers from. If I have depression, there is a biological reason for it, born from a chemical imbalance in my mind (usually). As with pretty much every other mental illness, even if the root cause is biological, we still recognize it as something which needs to be corrected. The only reason our culture doesn’t address transgenderism, homosexuality,and most other sexual disorders as mental illnesses is because our culture is obsessed with sex, and any doctor which goes against the “two consenting adults” mindset is vilified. Psychological and emotional disorders cannot be corrected through physical alteration. They can only be addressed with medication (chemical correction), or through therapy.

As I said in my previous post, we have years of studies which make it abundantly clear that physically altering the body to match internal perception causes more harm than good. Even the procedure’s creator and earliest supporter has concluded that the evidence is so overwhelmingly against physical alteration as a form of therapy that they have actively denounced the surgeries and refuse to perform them in any circumstance. At first glance there is some basic logic to what you’re proposing, but study and observation has no born this out.

If what you say is true, why do they refer to themselves as “transGENDER” instead of “transsex”? Why do they change their sex organs if gender is a man-made concept?

First of all, science is not settled that there is a biological basis to explain transgenderism or transsexuality. There is a lot out there on the Internet that pass as science-based but are not, so it is best to pay attention to findings reported by primary sources. The Stockholm Brain Institute conducted a study that reached the conclusion that the brains of MtF transsexuals are no more “female” than those of men. The authors wrote that “the present data do not support the notion that brains of male-to-female transexuals are feminized” and concluded the study does not support the dogma that male-to-female transexuals have atypical sex dimorphism in the brain.

Sex dimorphism of the brain in male-to-female transsexuals.

Gender dysphoria is suggested to be a consequence of sex atypical cerebral differentiation. We tested this hypothesis in a magnetic resonance study of voxel-based morphometry and structural volumetry in 48 heterosexual men (HeM) and women (HeW) and 24 gynephillic male to female transsexuals (MtF-TR). Specific interest was paid to gray matter (GM) and white matter (WM) fraction, hemispheric asymmetry, and volumes of the hippocampus, thalamus, caudate, and putamen. Like HeM, MtF-TR displayed larger GM volumes than HeW in the cerebellum and lingual gyrus and smaller GM and WM volumes in the precentral gyrus. Both male groups had smaller hippocampal volumes than HeW. As in HeM, but not HeW, the right cerebral hemisphere and thalamus volume was in MtF-TR larger than the left. None of these measures differed between HeM and MtF-TR. MtF-TR displayed also singular features and differed from both control groups by having reduced thalamus and putamen volumes and elevated GM volumes in the right insular and inferior frontal cortex and an area covering the right angular gyrus.The present data do not support the notion that brains of MtF-TR are feminized. The observed changes in MtF-TR bring attention to the networks inferred in processing of body perception.

Of interest, one Alison Hudson, an MtF and avid researcher on transgenderism submitted this as below on Skeptoid


Transgender people have brains like those of the opposite gender: fiction, though don’t take that to mean that trans brains are the same as their birth-assigned gender, either.

On the one hand, a study from 1997 did find that in trans women, a certain sexually dimorphic structure of the brain, the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, matched the size and nerve density of the bed nucleus in cis women. Further, a 2008 study looked at another sexually dimorphic brain structure in trans women, the hypothalamic uncinate nucleus, and determined that this structure also matched the biology of cis women.

On the other hand, both a 2009 and a 2015 study found that the grey matter in most areas of trans brains matched the volume of grey matter in birth-assigned gender. A 2010 study of the brain’s white matter also found that trans brains were not quite in the normal range for either cis men or cis women, but had some attributes of both.

**Various studies like this crop up regularly, each one measuring some small brain structure or function, some of them leaning one way, some the other. But the fact is that they’re all relying on small sample sizes and they’re almost always single studies that have not been repeated. There’s a surprising amount of science on this, but in the end a lot of it is inconclusive. Brains are far too complex to oversimplify with the idea that trans brains fit into one box or the other … or even that there are only two boxes to fit into. **

More importantly, all of this is talking about measured averages of the physical brain, not the confluence of thoughts and experiences that make up identity. Just because one doesn’t have the brain of the opposite gender does not mean one cannot have the mind of the opposite gender, or a mind that identifies as both genders, or as neither. Identities are just as complex as brains.

First of all, trying to “change one’s gender” is pointless, as every cell in the body will remain in the birth gender unto death (and in resurrection).

Transsexuality is not even really mind versus body, it is feelings versus body. But the solid body should be weighted just as heavily as the feelings. Feelings, and the mind, make a human being themself; but the body makes them somebody.


Sorry, skipping over a lot of the posts, was actually avoiding adding anything to this thread since I feel I have said what I wanted to say on my own…

But, I need to adress this. Transgender, is the umbrella term. It covers transsexuals, agender, bigender, genderfluid, and androgynes. Pretty much, it is a nicer way of saying “queer” or “gender queer”.

Treanssexual, is actually the correct temr when referring to a male-to-female, or female-to-male person. I personally use “transgender”, since it is more widely known, and when you use “transsexual” people for whatever reason see the “sexual” part of it and relate it to sexuallities.

Also, I would like to ask, since I haven’t kept up with it very well, has the Catholic church actually made an official statement on whether transsexualism is a sin or not? From what I read earlier this year, it seemed like it was all speculation.

As with most things, the state of thinking you are transsexual is not sinful, just as thinking you are homosexual is not sinful. When it becomes a sin is when a person moves into the realms of will and act. Being gay isn’t a sin, but engaging in a homosexual relationship is. Being transsexual isn’t a sin, but choosing to mutilate your body, effectively sterilizing yourself, is. There is some debate among theologians about if it can be considered acceptable in cases of extreme emotional distress, but I think most of the debate is concluding that is it sin and should not be undertaken, especially in light of the scientific data showing that the physical modifications only exacerbate the mental problems instead of fixing them.

Many, if not most, transgender people DO NOT change their sex organs but rather take hormones and get breast implants or breast removal to change their outer appearance to reflect what they feel they are. You can legally change your gender on documentations with out removing/changing your sex organs. Examples of this would be Caitlyn Jenner and Chaz Bonno, both legally changed their genders but did not change their sex because they kept their biological sex organs.

A transsexual is a person who changes their sex organs.

Is that clear?

Hey if you could checkout my last post for clarification. Also you can be queer and even gender queer and not be transgender. Queer as to do with you sexuality whereas being transgender can have little to nothing to do with sexual preference.

Sorry, I guess I misunderstood it a bit, still, I was kind of close.

Thanks for clarifying it better than me :slight_smile:

I don’t speak liberal-secularese. “Gender” is a grammatical term.

A well researched Catholic position paper, Gender Reassignment,
as submitted by Nicholas Tonti-Filippini
Dean of Bioethics of the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family
Melbourne, Australia,


And another, The Psychopathology of “Sex Reassignment” Surgery
Assessing Its Medical, Psychological, and Ethical Appropriateness

by Richard P. Fitzgibbons, M.D., Philip M. Sutton, and Dale O’Leary
under the U.S. National Catholic Bioethics Center


I read somewhere not long ago that the Church is against it because it mutilates the body. Don’t know if this is official.

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